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Parenting: Childhood

The Character Chart: A Foundational Parenting Tool

Parenting little (and big) children can feel like paddling down the rapids of a river in a raft. And then the raft turns over and the family is being swept along by the current of activities chosen or imposed.

In a previous post, The Power of the Coffee Date, I have argued that a regular time away allows the shepherds of the family to think about the issues they are facing and come up with plans to address those. In this post, I want to add another piece that helped us as a family – The Character Chart. I highlight it my conference (and video parenting course) – Parenting with Confidence.

Just this week I received this testimonial:
I found the character chart in one of our old class notes from your class! SO GOOD to review that information. It’s been probably 5 years or so since we had taken it. Great stuff. Anyway I gave some thought to your questions and worked through the chart. … The chart and the refresher and your email were all SUPER helpful. Thank you.

The Character Chart is a written document that records the issues your family is working on. In the calm of the coffee date, the shepherds can decide what are the most important issues and what they will do about them.

The Columns
As you can see, it contains the following components:
Who – With four children running around, we needed this column to remind us and the children who this line applied to.
What to Put Off – What is the negative behavior we are trying to work on?
Consequence – What will be the negative consequence for this behavior. This is important for everyone to know the consequence. As a result Mom and Dad can calmly give out the consequence (see The Parable of Two Kind Police Officers). In addition, the children know beforehand what the result will be. They know Mom and Dad are not just making it up on the spot.
What to Put On – This is a vitally important column. The biblical pattern is to put off and put on. Sometimes our children dont know the positive we want them to aim for.
Scripture – Here we list a Scripture that can be quoted, memorized, or just referenced. We are showing that we are not just making this up but we are acting under God’s authority.

An Example of a Row
R, C – Tattletaling – Chair for 3 minutes – Mom, I think you ought to know about – Proverbs 26:22,20
K, C – Delayed Chore Obedience – Extra Chore – Immediate obedience – Col 3:20
R, N – Complaining about others – 4 Thankful things – Thankfulness for your siblings – Col 3:17

The Reason It Works
The Character Chart works for several reasons.
It causes YOU to think – As you realize there are issues with your young children, the temptation can be to quickly issue a consequence or ignore the misbehavior. You don’t think of it as character opportunity with a deliberate strategy. By filling out a form, you are forced to think and be deliberate.
It is written out for all to see – By putting it out for all to see, a husband and wife can be on the same page. In addition, the children know what you are working on. The consequence is right there in black and white. The positive quality is right there also.
It reminds you of the consequence – In the heat of the moment, it can be easy to forget the consequence. As a father who was in and out of the home, I found I usually needed reminding. At other times, a behavior disappears for a few days and then reappears. What was the consequence again? Check the chart.
It keeps you calm – Lastly, the chart keeps you calm. You dont have to get angry when you see the misbehavior. After all you expected it. And you know what you will do. A simple process.

Download the Character Chart and try it. I know it will be a blessing to your family.

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Want more information like it? Check out our Parenting with Confidence online course and workbook.  It is our Parenting 101 material and helps young parents move from anxiety to confidence, from fear to faith. It is perfect for individual or small group study. Click here for more information.